The Memory of Fire follows directly on the heels of The Waking Land. When the first book in this exciting fantasy ended, the newly freed people of Eren feared the great empire of Paladis would retaliate and sure enough, they are preparing to send their Black Ships to pacify the rebellion and drive magic back out of the land. Jahan is from their, a friend of the Crown Prince, and decides to return as a diplomatic envoy in order to negotiate peace in hopes of avoiding a war.

He has a private mission as well, rescuing his youngest brother from Madiya, the cruel tutor who taught him magic at the cost of many of his memories. He thinks something is amiss with his middle brother as well. However, returning home is a disappointment. His middle brother has fled the military academy and is missing and his youngest brother seems terribly wounded even though Madiya has left.

His return to the court is unsuccessful, the Crown Prince has no time for him and everyone is against him except some rebel friends and his aunt. He is suspected of being a sorcerer, a crime which could lead to life in prison or death. It’s really a mess and to top it all off, there’s an incipient rebellion seeking his leadership, strange allies within the Court that may have ulterior motives, and so much inner conflict, he is half-paralyzed by indecision.

As a second in a series, The Memory of Fire avoids the usual trap of retelling too much of the first book. Bates trusts readers to remember, and if they forget, to just accept the world as it comes along. The liberation of Eren is not reprised. There’s far too much to accomplish in Paradis. It’s fast-paced and exciting. The duplicitous characters are presented with the complexity that means their duplicity is suspected and not out of the blue.

I was frustrated by Jahan at times. He was needlessly indecisive and inconsistent. Clearly, he has great magic but fails to use it to its best effect thanks to bad self-talk. That was the problem with Elanna as well. I hope whoever is the focus in Book Three will not be someone whose paralyzed by doubt. That’s a bit unfair to Jahan, he did not have time to be paralyzed, but he was as much driven by events as driving them. He was acted upon more than taking action on his own unless in extremis.

An interesting complication is Jahan’s particular magic. It consists of reminding materials of their other states. For example, reminding a fire what it was when it was out or vice versa. It is also the antithesis of Elanna’s power and I wonder if that might lead to problems down the road as his power drains life and hers wakes life. There is more than a hint that his power offends her which would be a great development in Book Three, figuring out how his power can function without damage. There are power sources he can employ in Paradis, but what about if and when they return to Eren?

I am eager to read the next in the series. I already have questions and expectations, which goes to show what a successful series Bates has written.

I received a copy of The Memory of Fire from the publisher through NetGalley.